Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Festival of Zappadan

Zappadan is a yearly festival to celebrate the life and music of Frank Zappa. It begins on the anniversary of his death, Dec. 4th and ends on his birthday, Dec. 21st. I first read the word on Litbrit, which led me to several wonderful sites, The Brain Police, Steven Hart, Alan Colmes, Fossil Apostle and The Aristocrats, all big fans of Zappa.

Frank was known for his innovative musical genius and his outspoken support of the 1st Amendment. I've always liked him because he didn't play the commercial game, you never see him on MTV, for example, and for his great music.

I picked up these two videos just because they appealed to me. The first, Cosmik Debris, is Franks "reply to spiritual hucksters," according to the Fossil Apostle. The second, Trouble Coming Every Day, was inspired by the Watts riots in 1965. The lyrics are there if you like.

The mystery man came over
And he said Im outta sight!
He said for a nominal service charge
I could reach nirvana tonight
If I was ready, willing and able
To pay him his regular fee
He would drop all the rest of
His pressing affairs and devote
His attention to me

But I said look here brother
Who you jiving with that cosmik debris?
Now who you jiving with that cosmik debris?
Look here brother, dont waste your time on me

The mystery man got nervous
And he fidget around a bit
He reached in the pocket of his mystery robe
And he whipped out a shaving kit
Now I thought it was a razor
And a can of foaming goo
But he told me right then when the top popped open
There was nothin his box wont do
With the oil of aphrodite, and the dust of the grand wazoo
He said you might not believe this, little fella
But itll cure your asthma too

And I said look here brother
Who you jiving with that cosmik debris?
Now what kind of a guru are you, anyway?
Look here brother, dont waste your time on me
(dont waste your time)

Ive got troubles of my own, I said
And you cant help me out
So, take your meditations and your preparations
And ram it up your snout!
But I got the crystal ball, he said
And held it to the ligh
So I snatched it, all away from him
And I showed him how to do it right

I wrapped a newspaper round my head
So I looked like I was deep
I said some mumbo-jumbo, then
I told him he was going to sleep
I robbed his rings and pocketwatch
And everything else I found
I had that sucker hypnotized
He couldnt even make a sound
I proceeded to tell him his future, then
As long as he was hanging around
I said the price of meat has just gone up
And your old lady has just gone down!

And I said look here brother-who you
Jiving with that cosmik debris?
Now is that a real poncho or is that a sears poncho?
Dont you know, you could make more money as a butcher?
So, dont waste your time on me
Dont waste it, dont waste your time on me

Well I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean they say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friends
Is anybody’s guess

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ‘em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Wednesday I watched the riot…
I seen the cops out on the street
Watched ‘em throwin’ rocks and stuff
And chokin’ in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whiskey passin’ ’round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin’ down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ‘em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Well you can cool it,
You can heat it…
‘Cause, baby, I don’t need it…
Take your TV tube and eat it
‘N all that phony stuff on sports
‘N all THOSE unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head began to hurt
From checkin’ out the way
The newsmen say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so
And further they assert
That any show they’ll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They’ll be the first to tell
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin’ hard and doin’ swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can’t be beat

And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They’ll send some joker with a Browning
And you’ll see it all complete

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ‘em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Hey you know something people
I’m not black
But there’s a whole lotsa times
I wish I could say I’m not white

Well, I seen the fires burnin’
And the local people turnin’
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite ‘em
And they say it served ‘em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it’s the same across the nation
Black & white discrimination
They’re yellin’ “You can’t understand me!”
And all the other crap they hand me
In the papers and TV
‘N all that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don’t appeal to him
(No matter if it’s black or white)
Because he’s out for blood tonight
You know we gotta sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many left
To see it really end
‘Cause the fire in the street
Ain’t like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don’t you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now’s the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain’t no great society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn’t free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Won’t amount to nothin’ more
Then watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor
Blow your harmonica son!


  1. Last year in a poll on the Guardian/Observers Music blog of the greatest protest songs ever written,
    Trouble Comin' Everyday came in #2 after Billie Hollidays's Strange Fruit.

    I posted the video for Night School among other things tonight.
    Mike, Thanks for joining in the Festival!

  2. GO BUY YOURSELF A COPY OF "Does humor belong in music?" and watch it.

    It's therapeutic and the combination of Ray White, Ike Willis, Scott Thunes, Chad Wackerman, Ed Mann, Bobby Martin, and Frank was one of the best bands he put together that didn't involve Lowell George or Steve Vai.

    Best version of the almond bro's whipping post ever done, IMHO because in Scandanavia people would mistake Frank for Duane and scream for "whipping post" so he learned it but made it better!

    For those to cheap to buy a copy, a youtube that isn't from the movie but close in performance with that band format....

    Makes the almond bros look like a high school talent show band. IMHO.

    Due to him being prolific, I think I have more recordings on LP of Zappa than any other artist in my extensive record collection.

  3. Next best thing to buying the movie, after more search...

    Unlike some Italian expats, I grew up with a tremendous love for rebels, outcasts, fender guitars, AND guns. :-)

    Zappa always knew how to put a band together and make it pertinent to the masses, even if they didn't always get it while they giggled at "yellow snow" they bought the whole album and took it home.

    One of my favorite subversives.

    Cheers Mikeb,
    No politics in these videos.

  4. Olive Branch to Romans.

    Stevie's Spanking, Live in Rome. Steve being the Vai, of course.

    Happy listening,

  5. Tom, The variety and depth of your knowledge continually amazes me. Thanks for commenting over here. But, I hope you make time for that autobiography.

  6. Thanks but I'll pass on the autobio. Been too many places I wasn't supposed to be and done too many things that weren't entirely kosher.

    I've financed enough lawyer's boats and children's college educations to not want to put my deeds and misdeeds in a book. I'd like to reckon an occasional bit of time in cells is over and done with, too. No sense in inviting more of that. Be like Obama admitting to cocaine usage in his book but worse if I were truthful.

    I can't think of anything particularly immoral I've done in my life but there definitely has been some illegal in multiple countries. There's a difference between illegal by statue and "right and wrong" and I reckon you can guess what paths I've tended to take when I've had to make the choice.

    I have a writer friend who's putting me in a book she's writing, though under an assumed name. I reckon I've got a long way to go and haven't really done anything that interesting yet, just happened to be in a lot of interesting places along the way so far.